The Lares Institute Blog

Study on Privacy Demographics

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Study Finds Higher Income Individuals Less Likely to
Read Privacy Policies.

Whether it is understanding the potential brand impact of a privacy incident, or implementing best practices regarding privacy, such as Privacy by Design, companies at times find themselves without significant guidance regarding what consumers think about privacy. The Lares Institute has just concluded a study regarding consumer perceptions regarding data sensitivity and consumer behavior regarding privacy and the results of this study can help companies assess how they handle the PR and brand issues related to a breach, and help inform decisions by companies when they determine what practices to adopt to protect data, including PbD.

Do Demographics Predict Privacy Sensitivity?

There were clear demographic differences regarding privacy sensitivity. The key findings were:

  • Age was the most predictive factor, though the relationship was not a linear one;
  • The most privacy sensitive and protective group was people aged 46-65;
  • Education level was generally inversely related to privacy sensitivity, and privacyprotective behavior; and
  • Higher income respondents were less likely to read privacy policies than lowerincome respondents.

 Do Individuals Read Privacy Policies?

While conventional wisdom is that individuals do not read privacy policies, that statement is a generalization that does not hold true. According to Executive Director Andrew Serwin, “While not every person reads privacy policies, and some policies had low percentages of review, it appears that consumers are making knowing choices about whether to review the policies, particularly because education level had an inverse relationship to whether respondents engaged in privacy protective behaviors, and income level was also similarly inversely related to the review of privacy policies.”

A link to the Demographics Study, and the press release, are included.

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